Digging Deep for Executive Interview Questions


Sometimes it’s the way you phrase a question that results in the answer you truly need. That axiom is definitely true when interviewing for executives in crucial roles. Asking questions in an executive interview setting that are too broad or weak and you may not get the complete picture of someone who is vying for leadership at your company.

The fundamentals, while foundational, are only surface-level. Questions about communication style, organization and ways to drive revenue aren’t going away. But, digging deeper could lead to some profound revelations that could indicate that this is the right person with the vision to lead your teams and advance your cause.

On that note, we took a look at some suggestions from experts that might help you better assess what an executive leader would bring to the table. We sourced these from articles on the jobs website Indeed and the career-driven news site The Balance Careers. Try some of these during your next interview and see where they take you:

1: Tell us about a negative experience you’ve had with another leader and what caused it?
The idea behind this one is to show how you may have learned from an experience with some tension. Chiefly, you want to hear how this experience changed the leader’s management style for the better.

2: When it comes to our company, what are we best at and what needs improvement?
This question can help indicate the scope of research the candidate has done on the company, but it’s also a chance to see how they can analyze the bigger picture.

3: How would you increase communication across departments in our organization?
This is a good one to see how an executive would increase productivity, as well as answer the time-honored question of breaking up silos in order to have everyone work together toward a common goal.

4: What is the most satisfying thing about being a leader?
Now we’re getting into the philosophy of leadership, which is nuanced greatly between individual candidates. This is a chance to see where their true motivations lie for wanting to lead others, from increasing profits to making a difference.

5: When you hire a new leader, how do you make sure the onboarding process is successful?
This is both a process and a culture question during the executive interview. You’ll want to see how they see their role in helping employees truly join a company, but also how teamwork will likely be a great solution to a successful start with a new role.

6: What are the things about this role that makes you a good fit for us, and what are some challenges that you already see?
Compare and contrast questions are standard, but this one in particular can showcase the candidate’s view of his or her own leadership style and motivations for taking on a new role.

7: Tell us about a time when you fostered a genuine change in your company, and how it was implemented.
Now, it’s story time! It’s always great to hear more detail about a leader’s true role in a company, and this question also encourages some talking about processes. It’s also great to see how the leader defines “genuine change” — and if it’s something that’s truly profound.

8: How do you deal with obstacles or concerns from a third-party or outside partner?
Sometimes in interviews, working with people outside of the company gets glossed over. With this question, you can see the leader’s perspective on relationships beyond the core leadership team, and the importance of maintaining them.

9. What traits did you admire from your last supervisor?
This question gets phrased in different ways as a more common go-to during an interview, but it’s crucial to have the part about “traits you admire.” Gleaning insight into how a leader sees themself with respect to ambition and communication style is important.

Hiring people who enhance and impact your business

Now, more than ever, it’s important to try and find people who can bring more depth to their roles beyond being the regulatory or compliance leader. Finding that person that can bring a culture of growth, change and innovation is what’s needed in this fast-paced world.

Helping you find a person who can be a People and Culture leader for your organization is one of our areas of expertise. Y Scouts brings an in-depth process to the table, helping you attract, engage and hire people who can impact and enhance your company at a high level.

We do this, in part, through our Covert Discovery Process, which starts with prospective candidates before we ever introduce them to potential roles. We create a meaningful relationship with this step, fully understanding who they are and what they want to accomplish throughout their career.

Work with us to bring the best leaders that will bring a positive impact to your business. Find out more about what we do on our website.